Lemon Creek Park 10/9
Back to Staten Island I headed feeling a bit more confident that this cleanup would actually happen, mainly because it was not being organized through the parks department. Lemon Creek Park is even further down the coast from Great Kills Beach, and since most of the bike ride would cover the same ground I decided to take the Staten Island railroad (also known as NYC subway) from the ferry terminal. Upon arriving to the parking lot at Lemon Creek, I was greeted by fresh donuts and coffee, a box of gloves, another of creature reachers (also known as trash grabbers), and enough garbage bags to clean nearly any beach. This was a much welcomed sight given my two past experiences.
There were about a dozen or so volunteers in total, and I really only exchanged a few words with some for we were all pretty focused on the task at hand. Compared to the three previous sites, and other beaches in the NYC area, this one was not too bad. Past the sand was a good deal of grass and bush, which managed to capture some litter, but overall I did not think the beach was too dirty.
I could not help but think about how different it was here than most of NYC. The suburban atmosphere was not just present on the trip from the train to the beach (large single family houses with well kept lawns and SUVs) but in the fact that this beach would receive more care and have less litter than a more urban competitor. The people cleaning up here were obviously invested in the beauty of their neighborhood, which is not a bad thing by any means, but it raises issues of why people are motivated to organize and partake in cleanups. Is it about beauty or environmental protection? Are we cleaning up litter or pollution? To me, throwing things away does not feel like a great accomplishment, because ultimately putting everything in a landfill, or recycling bin, is not solving the real problem of producing and consuming nonbiodegradable products. All this to say there is no reason why a cleanup cannot be for both looks and health.
The guys running the cleanup were very nice and accommodating, and although quite surprised that I came all the way from Brooklyn, invited me to another cleanup they were doing the following weekend, just around the corner from Lemon Creek.